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historical £s>feetcfj of 
Cijurci) of &t. 3 ol)n, 
ComtoaUtsi, Jl &::;. 

Macnab Print, Halifax. 

Right Rev. Clare L. Worrell, Bishop of Nova Scotia. 

"prefatory 3tote. 

^V%E beg to acknowledge our indebtedness for the in- 
*fctj formation given in this Historical Sketch to the old 
^^^ Minute Book of the Parish (which is still in use) , 
to an article in Church Work from the pen of the Rev. 
J. W. Rhodes, to R. W. Starr, Esq., of Wolfville, and to 
Mrs. S. Gilliatt, daughter of the late Charles Starr. (Mrs. 
Gilliatt died in February, 1910, at the age of 92 years). 


Rev. Joseph Bennett 1761—1775 

Rev. William Ellis 1775—1 779 

Rev. Jacob Bailey • 1779—1 782 

Rev. John Wiswall 1782 — 17cS9 

Rev. William Twining 1789—1806 

Rev. Robert Norris 1806—1829 

Rev. J. M. Campbell 1829—1835 

Rev. J. S. Clarke 1835—1841 

Rev. John Storrs 1841—1876 

Rev. R. F. Brine locum tenens 1872—1876 

Rev. Hy. Sterns 

Rev. Richmond Shreve 1876—1879 

Rev. F. J. H. Axford 1879—1903 

Rev. T. C. Mellor 1903— 


John Burbidge 1784—1802 

Benjamin Belcher . 1784—1802 

William Campbell 1802—1822 

Jonathan Shearman 1802 — 1810 

James Allison 1810—1850 

Charles R. Prescott 1822—1826 

Luther Hatheway 1826—1830 

Charles Starr 1830—1835 

William Terry 1835—1836 

Richard Starr 1836—1872 

George A. Allison 1850—1867 

J. T. Newcomb 1867—1872 

R. W. Starr 1872—1879 

James A. Lockwood 1872—1875 

George S. Lockwood 1875—1879 

William Smith 1879—1890 

Henry Zinck 1879—1888 

Samuel Boak 1888—1890 


Joseph Starr 1890—1892 

Lewis I. Donaldson 1890—1892 

John Donaldson 1892—1895 

William Smith 1892—1895 

Dr. W. V. Fullerton 1895—1898 

I. R. Forbes 1895—1900 

William Cox 1S98— 1900 

Dr. \Y. V. Fullerton 1900—1901 

I. R. Starr 1900—1908 

II. Brown 1901—1908 

John Donaldson 1908—1909 

II. K. Lea 1908—1910 

L. E. Healy 1909—1910 

I. R. Starr 1910 — 

David Sutton 1910 — 


Rector— Rev. T. C. Mellor, M. A. 

Church Wardens — J. R. Starr. 
D. Sutton. 

Vestry — W. Smith, J. P. 

J. Donaldson, B. A. 

Capt. Haliburton. 

A. C. Starr. 

H. K. Lea. 

H. Brown. 

C. Cox. 

W. Sutton, Jr. 

X. Fosbery. 

L. E. Healy. 

E. P. Armstrong. 

Hy. Robinson. 

Vestry Clerk — H. Brown. 


■^OR five years after the deportation of the Acadians 
in 1755, the land lay desolate. The tides ebbed 
mi* and flowed, the mists rolled up from the Bay of 
Fundy and piled themselves in thick fleecy masses along 
the ridge of the North Mountain, enshrouding Blomidon 
as in a winding sheet, the dykes and marshes slowly 
faded to sombre brown, and snowclad and ice bound 
lay dreary, and wind swept under the cold winter sun, 
and then awaking from their winter thraldom flushed 
again with the emerald tints of spring. Season succeed- 
ed season in the undeviating course of nature but the 
fair Acadian land, favoured by nature and blessed by the 
diligent toil of man, remained idle and fallow. 

Then in 1760, the second European settlement of the 
district took place. Into this goodly land came settlers 
from the British colonies of Connecticut and Rhode 
Island, who like the Israelites of old entered into posses- 
sion of a country already prepared into "wells which 
they digged not" and fields which they planted not; and 
great far spreading sea meadows, which other hands had 
fenced in from the hungry tides. In the previous year, 
however, Major Samuel Starr, the progenitor of the 
numerous Starr family who now in the sixth generation 
occupy the original grant, had surveyed the country, 
and on his report a company in the American colonies 
had decided to take up 100,000 acres. Two other town- 
ships, each of the same size, and named respectively 
Aylesford and Horton, were at the same time set off and 
settled and combined in King's County. In each of these 
townships the customary grants were made for a church 
and school. In the case of Cornwallis, the grant embraced 
a large quantity of valuable dyke land, a considerable 
p3rtion of which remains in possession of the parish. 

For the first ten years alter the English resettlement of 
this beautiful and romantic region, the settlers appear to 
have been dependent upon the occasional ministration 
of Rev. Dr. Breynton o( St. Paul's, Halifax, and Rev. 
Joseph Bennett, S. P. G., Missionary. There being no 
place of worship, services were held in the most conven- 
ient houses and barns. Not much was done in church 
matters until the advent of John Burbidge, who came 
from Halifax in L762. He was an Englishman, had been 
in the Army, but was then in business. He was a mem- 
ber of the fust House of Assembly in L758, then again in 
1759 and in 1760 made an Audit Report to the Govern- 
ment on the Provincial Revenue and Expenditure. In 
1765 he was elected to the House by the Township of 
Cornwallis and was made a Colonel of the Militia. Through 
his influence, two of his friends, William Best and Benja- 
min Beleher of Halifax, came and settled in Cornwallis, 
William Best was also a member of the first House of 
Assembly in 1 758 and again in 1 705, for the city of Halifax. 

John Burbidge, William Best, Samuel Starr, David 
Starr, George Jackson, Henry Potter, and others in the 
vicinity of Town Plot were the first to attempt the organ- 
ization of the parish. John Burbidge gave an acre of 
land on the spot now known as Fox Hill, then he and Mr. 
Best erected a small church of small dimensions and plain 
appearance, at their own expense. This church, which 
was situated about a mile from the present edifice, was 
never consecrated. The foundation of this church is 
still visible, and also several tombstones, mostly bearing 
dates in the 18th century. The desire of these good peo- 
ple was that they might have a building "for the more 
decent and convenient performance of divine service, and 
the celebration of the Holy Sacraments." This church 
was in charge of Rev. W. Ellis, whose headquarters were 
at Windsor. He was followed by the Rev. Jacob pailey 
for three years. In 1782 the Rev. John Wiswall, another 
S. P. G. Missionary, took charge of the Parish, and in the 
following year began the erection of a parsonage on glebe 
property, and organizing the church by appointing church 
wardens and vestrymen. 


The names of the first church corporation in the parish 
of Cornwallis are; — 

Churchwardens. — John Burbidge, and Benj. Belcher. 

Vestry; — Capt. John Terry, Capt. Thomas Farrel, Lieut. 
H. Burbidge, Major Samuel Starr, David Starr, Joseph 
Jackson, John Robinson, Jr., Capt. Thomas Ratchford, 
Capt. John Cox, Cornelius Fox, John Burbidge, Jr., and 
Capt. Ebenezer Farnam. Other names which appear in the 
early history of the parish, and which still exist in the 
province are; — Thomas Brown, W. A. Chipman, Joseph 
Sibley, William Morine, Penderman Allison, Elkanah 
Morton, William Baxter, Dan Pineo, John North, John 
Huston, Mason, Cogswell, Prescott and Bardaine, Gesner, 
Moore, Webster, &c, &c. The parsonage cost about 
£310. This was subscribed by the parishioners. 

In 1784 a Mandate was issued by the Governor for the 
induction of the Rev. John Wiswall. The document ran 
in the name of "His Excellency John Parr, Captain Gen- 
eral and Governor-in-Chief in and over His Majesty's 
province of Nova Scotia and its Dependencies, Vice-Ad- 
miral of the same," &c, &c, and was as follows; — 

"To John Burbidge, Esq., and Mr. Benjamin Belcher, 

By virtue of the power and authority vested in me by 
His Majesty's Royal Commission, and Instructions, for 
collating to, and inducting or causing to be inducted into 
any benefice or church within this province, every such 
clergyman as shall be qualified according to said instruc- 
tions, and the Reverend John Wiswall, A. M., appearing 
to me duly qualified, I do therefore, hereby, collate the 
said John Wiswall, Rector to the Benefice of St. John, in 
the town of Cornwallis, and I do hereby command you 
the said John Burbidge and Benjamin Belcher to induct 
the said John Wiswall into the Real, Actual and Corporal 
Possession of the said church, with all its rights, profits, 
and appurtenances thereto belonging, in the usual form 
and manner, and you are to certify this induction on the 
back of this mandate and return the said mandate into 
the secretary's office on or before the 12th day of Febru- 
ary, 1784. 

Given under my hand and seal at Halifax, this twenty- 
ninth day oi December, 1783, in the twenty fourth year 
of His Majesty's Reign, 

(Signed) John Park. 

An extensive history of the life and ministry of the 

Rev. John Wiswall, was wait ten and read before the Ilis- 
torieal Society of Nova Scotia, by the Rev. Dr. Saunders 

of Halifax. In 1789 on the resignation of Mr. Wiswall, 
who was a refugee from the revolted colonies, and a great 
sufferer, and his removal to Wilmot and Granville, the 
Rev. William Twining was elected Rector, on Michael- 
mas Day, 1802 (the annual meetings of the parish were 
in the early days always held on Michaelmas Day, Sept. 
29th, changed in 1S14), a meeting was held to arrange for 
the building of a new church and the selection of a new 
site. The site chosen was on the Glebe Farm. Cash, 
materials and labour were subscribed. In KS04 the 
frame of the present church was raised by a large gather- 
ing of men from all parts of the township, many women 
also attending, furnishing refreshments for the workers. 
The frame was covered and the roof shingled that year, 
but the square tower was left open, and the steeple was 
built inside with the posts of the octagon resting on the 
floor. This occupied several years as these were evi- 
dently easy going days. When the spire was ready to be 
put in place, 5th December, 1808, taking advantage of 
several large Brigs of West India trade being in port (the 
Port at that time, was at Town Plot), their hoisting gear 
and some of their crews were borrowed, and another 
gathering of the men, of the parish, hoisted the steeple 
into its place and firmly secured it. Want of funds de- 
layed the work on the inside of the church, and it was 
not all finished until 1812, but the church was formally 
opened for Divine Service on Christmas Day, 1810. 

In 1826 the church and graveyard were consecrated by 
Bishop John Inglis. This church, which is still used, cost 
over $10,000, of which the respectable sum of about $7,000 
was subscribed, the balance being made up by an S. P. G. 

Rev. T. C. Mellor, Rector St. John's Ci urc. 


At the Annual Meeting of L802 Colonel Burbidge retired 
from the office of churchwarden at the age of 86, much to 
the regret of the members. He had subscribed .6100 to the 
building of the new church, and £50 more if they erected 
a spire according to his plans. In a very pathetic letter 
almost at the of his life he says "I proposed that if 
the wardens would open a second subscription and get 
£200 subscribed, I would add £50 to it, provided the 
steeple was framed agreeable to my plan. I now make this 
memorandum as I am a very old man and may die sudden- 
ly, and should that be the case, I request my executors to 
comply with this my request." 

The following publication, extracted from the first paper 
printed at Halifax, after Colonel Burbidge's death, delin- 
eated his character. "Died, At Cornwallis, on the 1 1 th inst., 
(March 1812) John Burbidge, Esquire, in the 95th year of 
his age. A man that was revered and beloved by all that 
knew him, for his piety, interest and benevolence. He re- 
tained to the last a sound understanding, and was waiting 
with cheerful resignation for the moment of his departure 
from this world. Suitable to an uniform life of piety and 
virtue was the manner of his death. He retired to bed in 
the evening free from pain, and during the night the ser- 
vant of God fell asleep in the Lord." 

During the earlier part of the 19th Century, viz: — during 
the years the church was being erected, Divine Service was 
held in the houses of Col. Burbidge, William Campbell, 
James Allison, Joseph Lingley, and "occasionally, though 
rarely," at the houses of other parishioners. A few ser- 
vices appear to have been held in the old church at Fox 
Hill, especially in the winter months, and in the summer 
months some services were held in the new church, though 
not completed. On Christmas Day 1810 the new Church 
was opened for service, and was attended by a large con- 
course of people. 

In 1813, the old Church on Fox Hill was put up for sale, 
and the acre of ground, given by Col. Burbidge for the pur- 
poses of a graveyard, was ordered to be fenced. Many of 
the old Church families are interred in this cemetery, most 
of them in the North West corner of the lot. That part 


of it, and where the Church once stood was consecrated by 
the second Bishop Inglis during the incumbency of Rev. 
J. Storrs. Further than that he could not go as the Deed 
of Gift opened it to the public for interment. 

The old Church was sold at auction in 1814, and was 
bought by Elisha Eaton for ^14-5s.-0. Tradition has 
handed down the information that the Church was bought 
afterwards by Col. Campbell and brought down to Church 
Street, to be used as a barn, and was placed in a corner of 
his lot opposite his residence now the home of Mrs. Hy. 

It is interesting to note that Mr. Fox, whose name ap- 
pears frequently in the record of the parish, was a dis- 
charged seaman, and opened a school on Fox Hill. This 
school appears as under the auspices and direction of the 
Colonial and Continental Church Society, who paid him a 
yearly salary. Over the school was a room in which the 
A. F. and A. Masons held their meetings. Mr. Fox was 
married twice, and was the grandfather of Mr. Hy. Cong- 
don, of Port Williams. 

The Rev. Robert Norris, at one time a priest of the Ro- 
man Church, succeeded Rev. William Twining in 1806. 
He was followed by the Rev. John Moore Campbell who 
held the parish until 1835, removing to Granville Ferry 
where he died. In 1835 Rev. John S. Clark, a graduate of 
King's College, was appointed by the S. P. G. Six years 
later Rev. John Storrs, still affectionately remembered in 
the parish of Cornwallis and in Horton parish by the older 
members, received the appointment of Rector. Mr. Storrs, 
after a rectorate of thirty-five years, retired to England 
where he died in 1880. He was followed by the Rev. Rich- 
mond Shreve, a graduate of King's College, a man of ex- 
ceptional ability. Dr. Shreve (he was given the degree of 
D. D. by his alma mater) is now rector of Sherbrooke, in 
the Province of Quebec. In 1880 the Rev. F. J. H. Axford 
formerly incumbent of Liscombe under the C. and C. C. S., 
and later at Londonderry Mines, was appointed and re- 
mained Rector until 1903. Mr. Axford accomplished 
much work, visiting the whole parish and gathering to- 
gether the scattered ones of his flock. He organized a Con- 


gregation at Kingsport, where he had as a faithful coad- 
jutor, Mr. Kphiaim Hilt/, who still resides there and con- 
tinues his interest and faithfulness in all that concerns the 
church. In 1903 the Rev. T. C. Mellor, the present Rector, 
was elected. 

The parish of Cornwallis embraces one of the most beau- 
tiful and attractive districts in the Dominion. Rich in his- 
toric associations as the ancient home of the Acadian race, 
and the scene of many stirring incidents during the Revol- 
utionary war and that of 1<S1 2- 14, it may be called a classic 
region. This parish and that of Horton have been made 
famous by Longfellow in "Evangeline." Combined with 
this is its charming scenery, of mountain ' 'field and flood,' ' 
and the more substantial advantages of its magnificent 
apple orchards and rich dykelands. Taking it altogether 
the district is probably unsurpassed in the Dominion in all 
round attractiveness. Besides the parish Church of St. 
John, there are two out-stations. One at Canning, a 
beautiful and enterprising village on the old Habitant 
River, and dedicated to St. Michael and All Angels conse- 
crated in 1905, and the other at Kingsport where is to be 
found a pretty Mission Church dedicated to St. Thomas, 
and was consecrated in 1906. This church is being served 
at the present time by Rev. R. Johnson, who for very many 
years held the parish of Liscombe, and for ten years at 
Xew Germany. 



HE first interment in the new churchyard was 
that of Benjamin Jarvis in January 2, 1812. 

In 1S08, the sum of ^500 was given to the parish to- 
wards the erection of a church by his Excellency the Gov- 
ernor, Sir G. Prevost, from monies granted by His Majesty 
the King for the erection of churches. 

In 1813 there was at the East end of the church three 
tablets containing the Apostles' Creed, the Lord's Prayer 
and the Ten Commandments. These tablets were pre- 


sented by Benjamin Belcher, Esq., who also bequeathed 
;£200 to the church. At the parish meeting held that year 
it was ordered that the "mouldings round the tablets 
to be gilt, and the vacancy on the Table of the Lord's 
Prayer to be filled up with a pair of Olive Branches." 
These Tablets were renovated in the year 1904 at the ex- 
pense of Mrs. R. W. Starr, a grand-daughter of Mr. Bel- 

A Bell was presented to the Church in 1906 by Mrs. J. 
Walter Allison of Dartmouth, a grand-daughter of Charles 
Ramage Prescott a member of parliament, and a pioneer 
fruit-grower in this valley. The bell has excellent sound- 
ing quality, and bears an inscription recording the pre- 

A pulpit of solid mahogany was presented to the church 
in 1909 by Robert Storrs, Esq., of Wolfville, in memory 
of his father, the Rev. John Storrs, for 35 years Rector of 
this parish. The pulpit was formerly used in Trinity 
Church, Halifax. 

A beautiful and chaste set of red Altar Cloths and 
Hangings for Lectern and Pulpit was presented by Mrs. 
Amberman, while in Japan, in 1908. 

The four presentations, above recorded, appear to be 
the only ones the church has received in all its eventful 

The church of St. John, and the graveyard (the Eastern 
portion,) were consecrated by Bishop Inglis on August 
9th, 1826. 

The western portion of the churchyard, was set apart 
for burial purposes, and consecrated in 1908, by' the 
Bishop of N. S. (Right Rev. C. L. Worrell.) 

A circumstance, worthy of note, is to be found in the 
presence at both consecrations of Mrs. Abram Newcombe, 


who is still living, Mrs. Newcombe was born in 1812 and 
is thus in the 99th year of her age. 

At the Easter meeting of 1852 it was resolved that the 
clergyman's toll over the Cornwallis Bridge of ten shillings 
be paid. 

It does not appear what became of the old Rectory, but 
in IS 14 after much correspondence with the Bishop, who 
informed the congregation that the S. P. G. made their 
grants on the condition that a parsonage was provided, a 
Rectory was built during the incumbency of the Rev. J. 
Storrs. This Rectory was burnt down in 1881, and the 
present Rectory erected in 1882. 

A Victorian Organ — a two manual reed organ, — is 
the gift of the Reverend Prebendary John Storrs, M. A., 
Rector of St. Peter's Church. Eaton Square, London, 

An Oak Eagle Lectern is the gift of J. Walter Allison, 
Esq., of Halifax. 

A Prayer Desk and Seat, is the gift of Miss H. Gesner 
of New York. 

The Church has been renovated. The ceiling has 
been blocked and sheathed. A hard-wood floor has 
been laid in the Chancel, and wainscotting in harmony 
with the Church has been placed on the walls of the 

As a thank offering to Almighty God for His goodness 
and mercy in giving us such a glorious heritage, and en- 
abling us to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the found- 
ing of the parish and the 100th anniversary of the opening 
of the present church, this Booklet is written that it might 
prove an incentive to much prayer and good works by 
those of us who have entered into the labors of those who 
did so much for the upbuilding of the parish in its earlier 


The scheme for celebrating these anniversaries embraces 
the erection of a Parish Hall which is much needed at the 
present time to cope with our present activities, also in- 
stalling of a furnace, and the purchase of an organ. 

Let us all work together for these objects zealously, 
harmoniously and liberally, and above all let us be known 
as a congregation of faithful people, doing our utmost by 
prayer and supplication to God for the honor of His church 
and the extension of the Kingdom of His dear Son, Jesus 
Christ our Lord. 



EVER in the history of the parish has the Sunday 
School been so numerically strong, or so efficiently 
carried on as at the present. There are now 
several departments, all of which are enthusiastically 
worked by zealous and painstaking teachers. The 
Primary Class is conducted by Mrs. Mellor, assisted by 
Miss Mellor. The Junior Department by Miss H. S. 
Smith. The Intermediate Classes by Miss Healy (boys), 
and Miss Cox (girls). The Teacher Training Class by 
Mrs. W. Y. Robinson, and the Adult Bible Class by John 
Donaldson, Esq. There is also a Home Department. 
Supt, Miss Smith. Visitors, Miss Smith, Mrs. D. Sutton 
and the Rector. 

The Superintendent of the Sunday School is Mr. Don- 
aldson. The Sunday School has reached such numbers, 
and the present up-to-date methods have such demands 
that it has been found necessary to seek modern methods 
for carrying on the work by having separate rooms for 
the classes. 

Number in S. School 49 

Number in Adult Bible Class 43 

Number in Home Department 20 

Total 112 

There is also a Sunday School at Kingsport, conducted 
by Mrs. and Miss Johnson, and an auxiliary Sunday 
School at Chipman's Corner, conducted by Miss Chip- 
man, M. A. 


z^p^IIlv Guild of St. John is a useful organization for the 
1IL mutual edification of all who are connected with 
^^ it, and has for its object, the intellectual and moral 
welfare of the members. The meetings are held in the 
winter months, and this supplies a means of entertain 
ment to brighten and sharpen the life. The present 
officers are: — 

President The Rector. 

Vice-President H. K. Lea, Esq. 

Seen tary Miss Mellor. 

Treasurer John Donaldson, Esq. 

Executivt Committee Mrs. Mellor. 

Mrs. S. Kidston. 

Mrs. J. Donaldson. 

Mr. C. Cox. 

Mr. J. T. Healy. 
Parish Reporter Miss L. A. Healy. 


Senior Branch. 

Hon. President Mrs. Mellor. 

President Mrs. Cox. 

Vice-Presidents Mrs. Kidston. 

Mrs. Halliburton. 

Recording Secretary Mrs. Brown. 

Corresponding Secretary Mrs. J. R. Starr. 

Dorcas Secretary Miss Rowe 

Treasurer . . . Mrs. J. Donaldson. 

Mrs. W. Y. Fullerton. 

Mrs. Meister. 
Junior Branch. 

Superintendent Mrs. W. Y. Robinson. 

Assistant Miss Smith. 

S< cretary Miss M. Chase. 

Treasurer Miss L. Kidston. 

Members — Sr. 32 
Jr. ^7 

Total 49 



/^|^HE Mite Society of St. John's Church has proved 
Illy of great value for many years in raising by "mites" 
^^ money to be spent on the interior of the Church. 
It is demonstrated what can be done by the collection of 
mites, which no one misses. 

Supt. and Treas., Miss Smith. 

Collectors change frequently, giving every one an inter- 
est in the work. 


/^f HIS Club is named after the Rev. J. Storrs, a former 
1|L Rector of the parish, and is composed of the Junior 
^^ boys of the parish, all of whom are members of 
Miss Healy's class in the Sunday School. 

In addition to outdoor recreation and the development 
of the moral and intellectual parts of their nature there 
is also a pledge to prepare lessons for Sunday School. 
The upbuilding of the spiritual life is the primary object. 

The officers are: — ■ 

President .George McConichy. 

Captain Grant McGhee. 

Secretary (pro tern) Miss Healy. 

Treasurer . Fred Morine. 

Right Reverend Hibbert Binney, D. D., Fourth Bishop of Nova Scotia. 



St. John's Church, Cornwallis, Nova Scotia.